B2B Brand Strategy. Clients are the lifeblood of AlignandPull and nourish us in so many ways, the obvious, we provide the service, brand development, create growth and get paid, but from these interactions and research studies we get to see new directions, behaviours, gain knowledge and trends forming across clients in different sectors of business, local and international, big and small. Changes that are unrelenting are inevitable and keep on evolving.
One important change is the subtle and growing trend away from consumers only being influenced by brands, to the point where brands are increasingly being controlled and shaped by consumers. OK, the brand is certainly owned in a legal sense by the company, but it is increasingly co-created and evolves, pretty much on a daily basis.
Markets have become deep passionate conversations if you take the time to listen in and these conversations are expanding in scope every day (consider how Twitter has changed online debate or lets be honest some screaming rows and customer service nightmares)
In this complex web of feverous interaction, is it really still effective to issue some new brand guidelines in the hope of guaranteeing some consistency? Unfortunately, brands simply don’t just exist in fizzy analogue and 2D form or 3D anymore, they are experienced in 4D, real, sensual, surround sound, and they are heavily influenced by these ever-growing conversations within markets, likes, loves and ground swell hates and ridicule of organisations that think the old ways still work.
B2B Brand Strategy. So this change came with digital then?
Change had already started to happen before digital media came along, with organisations placing increasing importance upon listening to consumers, research and relationship marketing, it was a comparably slow process from insight to campaign. Branding in a post-digital world requires a genuine fast express leap and a change of thinking.
From ‘brick’ mobile phone, red braces, Athena poster, “If only everything was a reliable as a Volkswagen” and fax 80‘s the worlds of businesses and consumers began the move overlapping.
Consumers and businesses now co-create brands, facilitated by the explosion of digital media, interaction, feedback and loud and powerful voice. I mean, fast forwarding today would you dare tempt fate and suggest to everyone on Facebook that Volkswagen’s are the most reliable cars you can buy?
B2B Brand Strategy. This push towards the overlap means that brand managers need to focus more on understanding, influencing and engaging, and less on regimenting, controlling or ‘educating.’ Nowadays, brands need to be moulded, shaped and guided to ensure relevance to, rather than being imposed upon, customers and staff alike. Cue collaboration and fast moving instant feedback iteration.
LEAN thinking really works well here, which has evolved out of the manufacturing process, Toyota really developed this out and to produce the world’s most reliable cars, faster and cheaper than anyone else.
Design a simple manufacturing system
Recognise that there is always room for improvement
Continuously improve the lean manufacturing system design
Books from the Authors: Daniel T. Jones, James P. Womack, Daniel Roos are really worth a read. This thinking we think can be applied successfully to brand development and marketing activity, iterative thinking, constant development – with consumer feedback to achieve strong and ideally constant brand market fit.
AlignandPull, increasingly think in terms of businesses and consumers working together to create brands (new) B&B or B&C, not (old) B2B or B2C. Consumer-created content (remember the Go-Pro success article?) and conversations are steering brand image, behavior, reputation and choice.
B2B Brand Strategy. Certainly, the degree to which the business and the consumer overlap will depend on the category in which the brand operates. The priority of the brand owner(s) is to understand that overlap and how it affects the role and behaviour of the brand and in the same way their business.
B2B Brand Strategy. How are you changing in your brand and business strategy to accommodate and strongly benefit from B&C?